Grand Teton National Park Foundation

Wildlife Whereabouts: Spring is in the Air

Monday, April 29th, 2019

Warm temperatures, valley snowmelt, and greening vegetation will help many of Grand Teton's animals get a jump on replenishing critical energy reserves, particularly pregnant females that will be giving birth in the next two months.

• Since gestation lengths in mammals are very consistent, calving seasons will be similar to previous years, regardless of weather. The first bison calves of the year were born in early April, with moose and elk to follow in May.

• Northern migration of elk from the National Elk Refuge into Grand Teton has begun. Elk typically move up in the Snake River corridor north of park headquarters in Moose first, where river banks and east-facing slopes melt early.

• Wolves, foxes, and coyotes are out and about, localizing around den sites, and tending to newborn pups and kits.

• Bald eagles, ravens, great-horned owls, and other early-season nesting birds are incubating eggs.

• Birds that migrate out of Jackson Hole in the fall are returning in increasing numbers (osprey, bluebirds, meadowlarks, sandhill cranes, and others have returned to the valley).

• Bears are out in increasing numbers. They are looking for winter-killed carcasses, left over berries, pine seeds, and new vegetation on which they feed during the spring months. Don't forget your bear spray when visiting the park!

• Beavers are showing up as ice melts from ponds and are raising new families inside their dens.

• With the early spring weather, bighorn sheep in the Tetons have moved off their high elevation winter ranges to mid-elevations where they can access nutritious vegetation green-up.

• Seen any “ghost moose” this spring? Moose with a ghost-like appearance are exhibiting the effects of winter tick infestations, which results in patches of broken hair or bare skin from attempts to rub off the ticks.

• Numbers of sage grouse attending lek (mating) sites likely peaked during April.